- The Washington Times - Monday, October 6, 2003

ATLANTA (AP) — A woman opened fire at an Atlanta church before services yesterday morning, killing her mother and the minister before committing suicide.

Congregants of Turner Monumental African Methodist Episcopal Church said Shelia W. Chaney Wilson, 43, was agitated when she came to the church.

She shot the Rev. Johnny Clyde Reynolds after he greeted her and was walking away with his back to her, said Atlanta police spokesman Sgt. John Quigley. Police believe Mrs. Wilson then shot Jennie Mae Robinson once in the head before turning the gun on herself.

One woman in the sanctuary at the time fled after the first shot was fired, and the other took cover behind a pulpit, Sgt. Quigley said. He said an assistant pastor came in after hearing shots and found the three bodies on the floor.

Assistant Pastor Christy Miller said the pastor had just finished teaching Sunday school and was walking through the sanctuary when he stopped to talk with Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Robinson, 67.

Sgt. Quigley said officers don’t know of any possible motive. Worshippers who knew Mrs. Wilson said she was disturbed and something set her off yesterday.

Geraldine Andrews, the pastor’s daughter-in-law and a friend of Mrs. Wilson’s family, said Mrs. Robinson recently took her daughter out of a mental health facility.

Cousin Nekeshia Burton, 17, said Mrs. Wilson had gone to the church early in the morning to talk to the pastor.

“Something wasn’t sitting right with her,” Miss Burton said, but she added that no signs suggested that Mrs. Wilson would become violent.

Debra Mitchell, a member of the church, said Mrs. Wilson had recently lost her job.

“We knew she has some instability, but we didn’t know it was this deep,” she said.

Many of the members remembered Mrs. Robinson, who taught Bible study, as a pillar of the church.

“She’s just a sweet individual, always praying for other people, always doing missionary work,” Miss Mitchell said.

The pastor was described as mild-mannered and generous.

“Everything a church should be, J.C. represented,” neighbor Rosa Holmes said, recalling church drives to collect clothing and food for the needy, a scholarship program, and Christmas programs for underprivileged children. “He never got too tired to do anything.”

The shootings happened before most worshippers arrived for church. When they got there and heard what had happened, church members sobbed and hugged in front of the building.

“We’re such a loving church, a family church,” the assistant pastor said. “We’ll support each other through this.”

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